Chinese Bid for Washington Metro Contracts Is a Major Security Threat

By Joshua Philipp, The Epoch Times
May 9, 2019 Updated: May 9, 2019

News Analysis

A Chinese state-owned company is bidding for a more than $500 million contract to supply rail cars for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and the contract should be raising eyebrows in terms of finances and security.

The company, China Railway Construction Corporation Limited (CRCC), is based in Beijing and is the world’s second-largest construction and engineering company. It is owned by the Chinese regime’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council.

Being owned by the Chinese regime means it’s held under Chinese law, meaning that any data it collects through Wi-Fi or sensors will be liable to Chinese data monitoring laws.

Under the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) National Security Law, all data needs to be “secure and controllable.” The CCP has large-scale data monitoring programs under its Golden Shield censorship system, its Skynet surveillance system, its Social Credit System to track and rate citizens, and others.

Erik Olson, vice president of the Rail Security Alliance, told The Epoch Times in a previous interview that trains today are fitted with numerous systems for monitoring, which could be compromised if the CCP were able to control the rails.

Modern trains have closed-circuit cameras, internal Wi-Fi, and various types of sensors that can collect data.

Reuters published a story on the potential Washington Metro deal on May 9, claiming that “national security hawks” are circling in on the contract potentially going to China. It questions why a state would be interested in spying on people using subway cars—yet for Washington, the answer should be obvious.

If the CCP was able to receive data from the Wi-Fi networks, security cameras, and other sensors, it would mean the data of any government officials using those networks could be compromised. For example, Pentagon officials checking their email on the networks could have their passwords stolen.

It also would mean that the CCP would be able to track the movements of individuals and those they’re traveling with, as China’s facial recognition technology is among the most advanced in the world. FBI agents meeting with sources could have their sources compromised, and government officials having improper meetings could be blackmailed. The CCP could extend the same systems it uses against its own citizens into the heart of U.S. politics.

Reuters doesn’t explain that CRCC is not engaged in a normal business competition.

Being state-owned, the company doesn’t need to make a profit. This allows it to bid below cost and push out competitors. And it often bids at a significantly lower amount than any honest competitor could afford.

CRCC has shown its ability to dominate markets using this method in Australia. After it was allowed into the Australian market close to 10 years ago, it eventually acquired one of the three main Australian rail companies, and the two others went out of business.

The Chinese company already has been using the same tactic in the United States. Olson said that in Boston, CRCC was bidding at about half the price quoted by its competitor.

“The Boston one is particularly interesting because the second-lowest bid was from Bombardier, which was around $1 billion, and CRCC came in at $569 million,” Olson said.

“[CRCC] don’t have to make money, so they can do whatever they want.”

Some cities are going around federal regulations so they can work with CRCC. In Boston, for example, the local government waived federal funds so they won’t be held accountable to President Donald Trump’s 2017 “Buy American and Hire American” executive order.

Follow Joshua on Twitter: @JoshJPhilipp
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